Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
January 21, 2022

Self reflection is a valuable and necessary experience

By NATHAN BICK | April 22, 2014

I came to Hopkins as an undecided student — someone not only unsure about a particular major, but equally unsure about even the general subject or field of study I wanted to pursue. After speaking with so many Hopkins students who seemed to have things planned out so well, I realized that although I knew the general topics that I enjoyed and what subjects I liked in high school, I had never really considered what I would study - or even do - in college. Confronting these realities and decisions was a shock to my system and led to unanticipated stress. But it also led to significant personal growth during my first semester.

From the college application process all the way through to the deposit here at Hopkins, I had been consumed with researching colleges, ranking colleges, and picking colleges. Honestly, looking back, my criteria - both in selecting colleges to apply to and then in finally choosing the school I would actually attend - weren't really the most important of priorities. Name and prestige featured far too prominently on my list, probably out of a mixture of arrogance and an inflated belief in my own self importance.

As you might imagine, on March 28, 2013, the list of denials grew as the day waned. It was not until late in the afternoon when Hopkins came through with a “Yes!” This was the last school I heard from, and I knew immediately it was the school I would attend. But even then, there was a glimmer of doubt and confusion coming from those denials. I questioned myself, my plan, and even Hopkins’ decision — why would they accept me if others didn’t? The whole process was very humbling and brought me to reflect on my life and future.

As the summer went by, I felt in some sentimental way that I was experiencing my last few months. I suppose so many years of my life were spent preparing for and looking forward to college that the idea of its actual arrival was disconcerting — what had been my future was now happening, which proved for me that the future is real and does come about even when it seems remote.

All in all, when I arrived at Hopkins, my confidence was weaker than ever before. Add to this the homesickness of a somewhat introverted homebody, the hugely impressive student body here, the people I was convinced would be smarter and more dedicated than me (despite having always thought of myself as embodying these qualities), and I found myself doing a great deal of self reflection and examination. Why I was in college? What I was doing here? I questioned things as never before, not necessarily in a bad way, just in a more self-aware way. This has not changed; I still struggle and reflect about these thoughts, and I expect my ideas will continue to evolve.

Although the process has been mentally and emotionally rough at times, I’ve grown and arrived at some important conclusions. One take away that I’d like to share is that whenever we make a milestone decision (like attending college), we must remember that our values and priorities are not likely to remain static and inviolate over time, but to be dynamic and fluid along with our personalities, characters, and identities. I caution those about to undertake the college process in the future not to feel pressured about their decision, but to reflect about themselves, and contemplate on their major and their desired college experience rather than general reputation of the school.

The only lesson to take away from my humble thoughts is that self reflection, however you want to do it, is a valuable and necessary experience.


Nathan Bick  is a freshman economics major from Washington, DC. He is an Opinions Staff Writer for the News-Letter.


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